There have been far too many treats around my house lately. Which was fun for a while but once the novelty wore off, I found myself craving simpler, savory things. When I first started eating Paleo I didn’t allow myself to do “Paleo” treats. As someone who used to bake CONSTANTLY, I didn’t want to fall into the trap of just replacing one type of treat with another. So it was fun to dabble in sweet things once again, but after a while it became clear that my tastes and palate have changed a LOT since those days. Most of the time, what I genuinely want is healthy, nutritious food. Who would have thought?! So these zucchini noodles really hit the spot: delicious fresh vegetables topped with sweet scallops, salty bacon and finished with the tang of fresh lemon. Perfect.
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I don’t tend to cook scallops very often because they are usually very expensive. I also used to find them terribly intimidating because I was terrified of over cooking them – perhaps BECAUSE they’re usually so expensive! For both of those reasons, I wouldn’t normally buy these super teeny tiny “petite” scallops. But when I found these wild caught mini scallops on sale for half price, I figured now was the time to go for it! And you know what? You really don’t need to be intimidated at all!
The trick to cooking these isn’t complicated. You just need to make sure that they are really DRY when you add them to the pan to sear them. Make sure the pan is as hot as you can manage without the bacon fat beginning to smoke, then drop them into the pan, shaking it until they are all flat side down. You’ll be tempted to move them around while they cook, but don’t! Leave them for about 2 minutes before taking a peek at one of them. If that test scallop is lightly browned, you can flip them over and sear the second side for about another 1 – 2 minutes. Remove them from the pan and they’re done!
I don’t know about you, but when I see these miniature scallops, I think of pasta. I swapped my old foodie flame for zucchini noodles, made with my trusty spiralizer! If you haven’t bought one yet, I really recommend you do. They make food fun and open up even more super simple grain free recipe options. Seriously, you should get one! In this zucchini noodle dish, the scallops are so sweet that they pair beautifully with the natural saltiness of bacon, so I kept things really simple. The best thing about these zucchini noodles is that you don’t need to make a separate sauce. By cooking them in bacon fat and then adding the squeeze of fresh lemon juice, they have all the flavor they need. So don’t be tempted to leave out the lemon juice – it really makes the dish!
If you’re making this for the first time, I highly recommend you set out everything you need at the beginning. Chop your green onions, make your zucchini noodles and make sure you’ve got somewhere to keep two hot pans safely on the countertop at the same time. It’ll make things so much easier! And you’ll still have dinner on the table in about a half an hour. Plus, this tastes even better the next day!
This recipe was shared at the Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable by Phoenix Helix – go check it out!Print
Zucchini Noodles with Scallops & Bacon
Zucchini noodles tossed in a simple lemon sauce with seared petite scallops, bacon & green onions. Quick, simple & delicious!
- Cook Time: 30 mins
- Total Time: 30 mins
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- 1 lb petite bay scallops, cleaned & rinsed
- 6 slices bacon
- 8 medium zucchini
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 6 green onions, sliced with green tops reserved for garnish
- Squeeze fresh lemon juice
- Sea salt & fresh black pepper to taste (omit pepper for AIP)
- Lay the cleaned scallops on a clean dish towel or paper towel to dry. Fold the clean towel over the scallops or lay an extra sheet of paper towel on top. Press gently to absorb excess moisture; set aside, still covered.
- In a large flat bottomed pan, cook the bacon until crisp.
- While the bacon is cooking, use a vegetable spiralizer or julienne peeler to make your zucchini noodles. Save the noodles for later.
- When the bacon is cooked, remove from the pan and set it aside.
- Pour off most of the excess bacon fat and save for later, leaving behind just enough to coat the pan lightly. Save the pan to cook the scallops later.
- In a large, high sided pan, add about 2 tsp of the reserved bacon fat. Bring to medium high heat and add the zucchini noodles and garlic powder. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Saute the zucchini noodles until just softened, about 3 – 5 minutes. While the noodles are cooking, chop the cooked reserved bacon into pieces.
- Remove the noodles from the heat and toss them with 2/3 of the bacon, the white parts of the chopped green onions and a squeeze of lemon juice. Set to one side.
- Return the flat bottomed pan to the stove and bring to medium high heat. Add the dried scallops to the pan; they should sizzle straight away, but the bacon fat should not be so hot it is smoking.
- Sear the scallops until golden brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Toss or flip the scallops and sear the other side for 1 – 2 minutes, until golden.
- Remove the scallops from the heat and toss them in with the noodles.
- Divide the noodles between plates and garnish with the remaining bacon pieces and green onions.
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I love that you’ve given zucchini noodles the spotlight here! Love the baby scallops, this look so yummy!
Wow, thank you so much – I love your blog and am having a girly “squeeee!” moment 🙂
I once ruined an entire batch of scallops, and have been traumatized ever since, but your photo looks so good I think it might be time to try again! If you have a minute, please come over and share your recipe at the new Paleo Party at Allergy Free Vintage Cookery. It’s that time of year when we all need new inspiration! Thanks 🙂
These are teeny so somehow less scary.. because they’re cute 🙂
Why have I never thought to dry scallops before cooking them? Excellent tip! I highlighted this recipe as one of the favorites at this week’s Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable. Thanks so much for linking up.
Awesome, thank you so much! Yes, it’s the drying that lets you sear them nicely – I always used to chicken out and bake them because the large ones are so expensive that I was terrified of cooking them!
Do you think this would reheat well or would the zucchini noodles get too mushy?
I haven’t tried reheating it, but I suspect doing so would make the zucchini noodles release some extra water which wouldn’t be so great. I think it would be great as a cold salad, though!
Divine recipe, substituted shrimp, couldn’t find baby scallops for some reason. First time I have been full in three days.
So glad you enjoyed it! Yay for a happy full tummy 🙂
Without a doubt, one of the best tasting and most filling recipes I have tried in a long time (I used shrimp as that is what I had already). Bonus points, super fast and super easy. Thank you!
This makes me so happy, thank you for taking the time to comment and let me know that you enjoyed it 🙂
I tried this recipe but added spiralized beets as well for a little more color and nutrient density. It was delicious!
Yum! Beet noodles sound great! 🙂
The scallops were yummy but the zucchini noodles with bacon? Heaven!
Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! !
So glad you enjoyed this, it’s one of my favorite recipes 🙂 It’s great with shrimp or chicken, too!
Yes! Halfway through I forgot it was zucchini and was eating the finest homemade egg noodles evahh! I am going to try this with other proteins for sure, and also with carrots and beets as some of your readers have suggested. You’ve rescued me from the past-less blues with this recipe! Rock on, mama!!
I also like sweet potato noodles, too – do a search for “alfredo” and you’ll find a recipe that uses them 🙂
YUM! Just made this for dinner. My husband loved it!
I am a decent cook, but on occasion I truly feel proud of something I’ve made. This was one of those meals. It was delicious, clean, and we had GIANT bowls of it for about 400 calories. So good.
Yay, so glad you enjoyed it 🙂
I’d really love to try this but the print button doesn’t work.
Hi there, this is actually a problem with the recipe plugin I use. I’m working with the company in order to get it fixed, but in the meantime you’ll have to copy and paste the recipe into a document in order to print it. Sorry about that!
I’ve just recently gotten into zucchini noodles – so delicious and slurpy! This recipe sounds wonderful. Since scallops are usually beyond my budget, I’m thinking I’d substitute chunks of chicken breast. Thank you for this!
I hear you – I always wait until there are sales on the little frozen bay scallops and then stock up! Shrimp would work great, too, or you could try flaking in some canned salmon — Rach 🙂
These zucchini noodles were extremely healthy and full of of amazing flavor. This is a dish I would gladly dig into again, I really enjoyed it!